Black Lives Represented: Writing, Art, Politics and Society

The details
Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies
Colchester Campus
Undergraduate: Level 5
Thursday 03 October 2024
Friday 13 December 2024
18 March 2022


Requisites for this module



Key module for

BA Q300 English Literature,
BA Q303 English Literature (Including Placement Year),
BA Q320 English Literature (Including Foundation Year),
BA Q321 English Literature (Including Year Abroad),
BA Q210 English and Comparative Literature,
BA Q211 English and Comparative Literature (Including Year Abroad),
BA Q212 English and Comparative Literature (Including Placement Year),
BA Q218 English and Comparative Literature (Including Foundation Year)

Module description

The representation of black lives in writing, art, politics and society bears a legacy of erasure, suppression and denial, a practice sometimes referred to by critics as "whitewashing". This legacy, undoubtedly linked to the growth of modern European imperialism in the wake of Columbus's American encounters, can often obscure the history of black people and their cultural output in different periods.

From the "whitening" of Ancient Egypt--whereby it was situated within a European Mediterranean world, as opposed to an African one--to quiescence about the presence of black people in Britain prior to the Second World War, black representation in world history often featured as a kind of absence prior to the 1960s.

This module aims to examine representations of black lives and cultural output over a broad range of fields, including the visual arts, literature, history and politics, and in different historical periods. It investigates what it means to be black--generally understood as a social category or construct relating to Africans and their descendants, whether Afro-Caribbean, Afro-Latin, African American or Black British--in relation to critical discourses of ethnicity, race and postcolonialism. It will also be informed by seminal theories of race by black academics and theorists, including W. E. B. Du Bois, C. L. R. James, Henry Louis Gates, Sylvia Wynter, Joyce A. Joyce, Barbara Smith, Stuart Hall and Paul Gilroy.

Module aims

1. To provide students with a critical overview of writing, art and history by or about black (African and African descended) people through different historical periods.
2. To introduce students to a range of inter-disciplinary methodologies, frameworks and topics.
3. To enhance analytical skills and self-expression, through research and writing.

Module learning outcomes

By the end of the module students will be able to:

1. Demonstrate knowledge of a wide variety of cultural works across several important genres and forms, including the visual arts, literature and politics.
2. Critically evaluate and analyse artistic and cultural works on the module with an informed understanding of the historical period and context which produced them.
3. Demonstrate critical awareness of and the ability to research themes and methodological approaches pertinent to the study of black literature, history, politics or art.

Module information

No additional information available.

Learning and teaching methods

Anticipated teaching delivery: Weekly 1-hour lecture and 1-hour seminar


  • McQueen, Steve; Ridley, John; Ejiofor, Chiwetel. (2013) 12 years a slave, [U.K.]: Entertainment One.
  • Campos-Pons, María Magdalena; Luis, William. (2011) 'Art and Diaspora: A Conversation with María Magdalena Campos-Pons', in Afro-Hispanic Review: William Luis. vol. 30, pp.155-166
  • Locke, Alain. (2018) 'Enter the New Negro', in The new Negro: the life of Alain Locke, New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
  • Peck, Raoul; Jackson, Samuel L.; Belafonte, Harry; Brando, Marlon; Cavett, Dick; Bush, George W.; Baldwin, James. (2017) I am not your Negro, [United States]: Velvet Film, Inc.
  • Du Bois, W. E. B.; Edwards, Brent Hayes. (2007) The souls of Black folk, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • McDougald, Elise Johnson. (c2001) 'The Task of Negro Womanhood', in Double-take: a revisionist Harlem Renaissance anthology, New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press.
  • Domingo, W.A. (1980) 'The tropics of New York', in Harlem, mecca of the new Negro, Balto. [i.e. Baltimore], MD: Black Classic Press. vol. v. 6, no. 6, pp.648-650
  • Hall, Stuart. (2016) Lecture 7: Domination and Hegemony in Cultural studies 1983: a theoretical history, Durham: Duke University Press.
  • Peck, Raoul. (no date) I Am Not Your Negro [DVD].
  • Bonner, Marita O. (c2001) 'On being young : a women and colored', in Double-take: a revisionist Harlem Renaissance anthology, New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press.
  • Cleaver, Eldridge. (1969) 'The white race and its heroes', in Soul on ice, London: Cape., pp.69-84
  • Cleaver, Eldridge. (1969) Soul on ice, London: Cape.
  • Rankine, Claudia. (2015) Citizen: an American lyric, [London]: Penguin Books.
  • Hall, Stuart. (2017) 'Racism and Reaction', in Selected political writings: the great moving right show and other essays, Durham: Duke University Press.
  • Garvey, Amy Jacques. (c2001) 'On Langston Hughes: I am a Negro—and Beautiful', in Double-take: a revisionist Harlem Renaissance anthology, New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press.
  • Selvon, Samuel. (2006) The lonely Londoners, London: Penguin.
  • Seacole, Mary. (1988) Wonderful adventures of Mrs. Seacole in many lands, New York: Oxford University Press.
  • Locke, Alain. (1980) 'Enter the new negro', in Harlem, mecca of the new Negro, Balto. [i.e. Baltimore], MD: Black Classic Press. vol. v. 6, no. 6, pp.631-635
  • Carmichael, Stokely. (2014) 'What we Want', in African American voices: a documentary reader from emancipation to the present, Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell., pp.227-233

The above list is indicative of the essential reading for the course. The library makes provision for all reading list items, with digital provision where possible, and these resources are shared between students. Further reading can be obtained from this module's reading list.

Assessment items, weightings and deadlines

Coursework / exam Description Deadline Coursework weighting
Coursework   Essay (2,500 words)    65% 
Coursework   Module Portfolio    30% 
Practical   Participation mark    5% 

Exam format definitions

  • Remote, open book: Your exam will take place remotely via an online learning platform. You may refer to any physical or electronic materials during the exam.
  • In-person, open book: Your exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may refer to any physical materials such as paper study notes or a textbook during the exam. Electronic devices may not be used in the exam.
  • In-person, open book (restricted): The exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may refer only to specific physical materials such as a named textbook during the exam. Permitted materials will be specified by your department. Electronic devices may not be used in the exam.
  • In-person, closed book: The exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may not refer to any physical materials or electronic devices during the exam. There may be times when a paper dictionary, for example, may be permitted in an otherwise closed book exam. Any exceptions will be specified by your department.

Your department will provide further guidance before your exams.

Overall assessment

Coursework Exam
100% 0%


Coursework Exam
100% 0%
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Dr Jak Peake, email:
LiFTS General Office, email: Telephone: 01206 872626



External examiner

Dr Doug Haynes
University of Sussex
Reader in American Literature and Visual Culture
Available via Moodle
Of 26 hours, 20 (76.9%) hours available to students:
6 hours not recorded due to service coverage or fault;
0 hours not recorded due to opt-out by lecturer(s).


Further information

* Please note: due to differing publication schedules, items marked with an asterisk (*) base their information upon the previous academic year.

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